March 31, 2015



I wasn't much of a hiker before I came to California - I mean why hike up a mountain for the fun of it? - but I was am young and I wanted to impress Nick so I did it. And somewhere along the way I actually started to enjoy it. The sweating and the heat are still pretty annoying (thank you San Diego!) but that feeling you get when you reach the top and finally can admire the view is pretty priceless. 

There are A LOT of places to hike in San Diego and an equal amount of lists on 'the best hikes' but these are some of our 'classics' we've done multiple times and keep going back to. Often because they're just convenient and in some cases because they'll do a great job of kicking your butt. I'd like to try out some new ones this year, but what can I say? I'm a creature of habit. 

1. Torrey Pines State Reserve 

If you're looking for a leisurely short walk, this is the one! You can make it a bit more challenging - if you really want to - by parking at the bottom of the hill and then walking up to the trails or simply  go for a run. Anyway, it's an absolutely beautiful area right by the ocean and I seem to remember that you can head down to the beach from certain trails. Perfect for some sunset snapshots!

2. Blue Sky Reserve to Lake Ramona

This is one of the first hikes I did in San Diego and it's short but brutal in its own way when you're from a flat country. Walking through Blue Sky is almost like a breeze - no hills and lots of shade - but when you reach the road that goes up to the Ramona dam it gets tricky. Prepare to say goodbye to that lovely shade you've gotten used to because it's all uphill in the sun from here and the last part is a pretty steep climb. It's definitely one of those routes where the way back makes you happy because it's basically all downhill.

4.8 mile/7.7 km round trip*

3. Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve

It's far from the mysterious forest its name suggests although the trail does start out in the nice cool greenery. The uphill part is limited to the beginning, which I prefer actually, so once that's over you can enjoy the views and realize how low the water levels of the Reservoir and even Lake Hodges are compared to previous years (hello drought!). You'd definitely want to  wear good hiking shoes here because I almost twisted my ankle once on the loose rocks at the top. Just sayin! There are also great & flat(!) trails around Lake Hodges if you start from the other side or you can hike up Bernardo Mountain if you wish.

6.8 mile/ 10.9 km round trip*

Hiking has that effect on us // Mount Woodson

4. Iron Mountain

Iron Mountain is probably my favourite hike on this list, since it gives you a workout but not too much of one if you know what I mean. We did this one again two weeks ago and were on a roll. It's always nice when you're the one passing people instead of holding everyone up. And although there are switchbacks at the end, they are no way near as bad as Mount Woodson's (see below). It's generally a more relaxed mountain, if that makes sense. Every time we've gone there on a weekend, we've seen this guy with his older dog hiking up the hill. He apparently does this a lot because the dog is off leash and clearly knows where to cut through. It's so cute. 

6.6 mile/ 10.6 km round trip*

5. Lake Poway to Mt. Woodson

I have a love/hate relationship with Mount Woodson. It's one of those mountains where you just can't be out of shape. Trust me, it will be a nightmare. But then again I also don't like to take my time - I want to get the difficult parts over with as soon as possible please - so that's probably why. It's also one of the most popular hikes around San Diego and literally everyone goes there for that potato chip rock. I'm one of those purists though who has never taken a picture on the potato chip rock. First of all, it's seems ridiculous (almost reminds me of my postmodernism class) to wait in line at the top of a mountain to take a picture on a rock. And second, it's not even the top. That's a few hundred meters further, past the radio towers and you can actually relax there. Since it's so popular it's good to start out as early as possible (it can get really crowded) & always bring enough water 'cause Poway can be hot hot hot.

8 mile/12.8 km round trip*

So is it just me or does hiking as a workout seem like a very American thing to do? I used to walk a lot in Europe - mainly because there weren't any hills let alone mountains where I lived - and hikes only happened on vacations. Ok, I admit I can't remember if the locals trekked up those hills every weekend, but still. I just always think it must be nice to stretch your legs every once in a while here because most people have to drive everywhere during the day and nature is literally at your doorstep.

Do you enjoy hiking?

Linking up with Travel Tuesday

* Different distances are listed on different websites sometimes, it all depends on where you start of course!

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